Feb 1, 2010


Internships are basically short term learning opportunities provided by employers to young scholars seeking to learn professional skills that will best utilize their careers. Interns being young and ambitious, they just don’t learn but also add much value to their working environment. Sometimes motivated with just empty job promises, they do as much as coming up with fresh innovative ideas which benefit their employers a great deal.

I seriously think that the essence of internship has increasingly been weakened hence turning it into fraud. Both higher learning institutions and employers these days make it so hard and frustrating for students seeking opportunities. Internship being a necessity for any serious student and compulsory in most institutions, students always avail themselves to the professional world in the hope of achieving some skills and exposure. However the prevailing circumstances are not making it any easier for these students. Quite often, it is not skills and exposure they acquire but a rude shock of their lives.

It is apparent though that frustration begins right at college when a student is due for internship. I know an internationally recognized public university which solicits for a compulsory internship fee from students yet it makes no effort to assist them strike opportunities. It merely provides bona fide letters which introduce to employers students who are due for internship. The university does not even bother to follow up beyond those letters despite complaints from many students demanding value for their money.

Employers too, particularly NGO’s have a tendency of demanding a non-refundable fee as a prior condition for offering internship. To most companies, internship is no longer a teaching practice but a cost cutting opportunity. Hence employers now recruit interns, overwork them with less or no pay at all practically denying them a chance to learn.

It is in the hands of employees that interns suffer the most. A part from a few who tolerate and accommodate interns as colleagues, most employees rarely see interns as valuable assets to their working environment. Some upon failing to inspire respect in them, they opt to unreasonably generate fear. Quite often, they feel so insecurely egocentric, an attitude which prompts bashing and discouraging of interns all the time.

My biggest concern is how interns obliviously get victimized sexually. This is perhaps the most prevalent injustice done to them. With rampant cases of sexual harassment at work, interns are always on the receiving end. Only a few brave interns manage to overcome these kinds of situations.

Every person who has ever been an intern has a memorable experience. Internship unarguably makes a life time career impact to many people. I hereby appeal to higher learning institutions, employers and those of you charged with the responsibility of mentoring interns to give them an easy time. You may have your personal prejudice against interns but it is important that they be taken care of.

By Duke Mwancha